Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the “Observatorio Aragonés sobre el Sáhara Occidental,”, CODESA, San Miguel de Lima city council and its major, Mr Salvador Heresi, for allowing me the opportunity to address you (I come from Peru) to defend a noble cause: that of the Sahrawi people, and to ask you to implement immediately, once for all, the referendum that may let this people its self-determination and Independence and put an end to the invasion of its Territory, the last colony of Africa, by Morocco. The Sahrawi people waits for its fully freedom since 37 years. The Moroccan military wall of shame has unjustly divided its families. Some of them are living in the occupied Territory victims of the daily violation of their human rights, and the others in the liberated Territory and the Refugee Camps in Tinduf in the hostile desert living thanks to international charity and solidarity.
It is no more necessary to debate about historic and legal arguments about what position is justified because the International Court of Justice has already ruled the question in its well-known opinion dated October 16th 1975, that states that there is no tie of “territorial sovereignty or co-sovereignty” between the Western Sahara and Morocco or Mauritania, and therefore the principle of self-determination should be applied “through the free and authentic expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory”.We find also dozens of resolutions of the African Union and the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations, which recognize the right of self-determination of the Sahrawi people, ant to that end the UN established its “United Nations Mission for the Referendum in the Western Sahara” (MINURSO in its Spanish acronym), displayed in the Territory since 1991 to hold the referendum in 6 months. However, we are waiting for 22 years.
The seven billion inhabitants of our world are looking at you, Excellences, to put an end to the suffering of the Sahrawi people and to avoid that this great people may disappear from the earth by the genocide systematic action of the occupying State with the indifference of many countries.
We have just to look at the news: every day violations of the human rights of the Sahrawi people are committed. Morocco tries to eliminate the material and immaterial cultural Saharawi heritage: in the occupied territories the Spanish language is not offered in the State managed schools, the children are educated under a Moroccan constructed official history that ignores the Western Sahara genuine history; the Sahrawis are harassed if they wear their distinctive traditional clothes. The occupying power tries to delete the material cultural heritage which witnesses the history and culture of the Western Sahara as a non Moroccan Territory. For instance, the Moroccan authorities have razed the historic Fortress of Villa Cisneros and also pretended to raze the Catholic church in the same city. The aggression even gets to the point to forbid the use of the traditional “khaima” to the Sahrawis, their national identity symbol. It’s not me who says that, but the independent expert of the United Nations, Ms Farida Shaheed, who “recommended that measures limiting the cultural rights of the population of Western Sahara should be immediately revoked, and reported that a number of Saharawi had been unable to give their children Hassani names”. In summary, we are attending to a cultural genocide, and to racist practices that reminds us the South-African Apartheid.
As the United Nations delay the solution to the self-determination of the Sahrawi people, the wealth of the Territory are spoiled by Morocco, the invader State: the fisheries, the sand, the phosphates, the agricultural excluding the Sahrawi subdued population. More than 50% of the Sahrawis are unemployed as the jobs are granted to Moroccan settlers.
Excellences, members of the Fourth Committee: the world has just known stupefied to the discovery of mass graves of Sahrawis assassinated in 1976 as Morocco began its occupation and considered them as “disappeared”. These are crimes against humanity that may not prescribe. We are all injured, once more, with the sufferings of the Sahrawi people: lack of freedom, detentions and tortures that the new technologies let us know breaking the accomplish informative black-out of the great mass-media.
You are on time, Excellences, to keep on insisting on the necessity to hold the referendum of self-determination of the Sahrawi people and to ask that the MINURSO should be granted competences about human rights monitoring. Even, this General Assembly may recommend the recognition, to the States that haven’t did it yet, of the Sahrawi Republic and its admission in the United Nations, so that there should be a more equitable negotiation to return the territory occupied by Morocco.
In your hands lies the future of a people who waits for its self-determination for more than 37 years and who trust in you and in the International Law. You are their hope. Resolutions even stronger are needed before the international inaction. Don`t defraud them. It may be the last chance for a peaceful solution. It is well known that Morocco blocks the negotiations in the United Nations. If this attitude persists, Morocco should be obliged by the blue helmets to withdraw from the Territory.
As the Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki Moon and his Personal Envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross have pointed, the status quo is not acceptable. The situation is unbearable. Or somebody is waiting to a massacre of the Sahrawi people like in Rwanda or Bosnia to take action?